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The Reluctant Austinite Looks Upon Dominic Monahan And Ron Perlman In I SELL THE DEAD!!

Merrick here...
We've posted some material from The Reluctant Austinite before; now he's back with a look at I SELL THE DEAD from Irish filmmaker Glenn McQuaid - who wrote, directed, and edited this film. Here's a trailer for the project...

...and here's The Reluctant Austinite with some thoughts on the movie!
Hello AICN readers! It's THE RELUCTANT AUSTINITE here in Louisville, KY with a look at the theatrical release of the supernatural, body snatcher, horror/comedy buddy picture, "I SELL THE DEAD". My last review posted here on AICN was for Joel Schumacher's dumped Nazi-occult horror opus, "BLOOD CREEK", and today I returned to the same moldy grindhouse of a theater, the Village 8 in historic St. Matthews, to attend what is apparently the only theater in the country playing the the US theatrical release of "I SELL THE DEAD." According to IMDB, that seems to be the case anyway. Relative newcomer, Irish film director Glen McQuaid, came up through the ranks as a visual effects supervisor and second unit director on Larry Fessenden's "The Last Winter", before taking the reigns on this period piece black comedy. McQuaid, in his day job, plays professional Rugby for both the New York Gotham Knights and the Dublin Emerald Warriors, so he could probably kick your ass. Just FYI to the Talkbakers. Fessenden, whose Glass Eye Pix production company produced the film, stretches his character actor wings here appearing as one of the two central characters. The story follows the relationship and burgeoning careers of two graveyard "ghouls" as they ply their trade in turn of the century London. Dominic Monaghan ("Lord of the Rings", "Lost") plays young apprentice ghoul Arthur Blake to Larry Fessenden's (director of "The Last Winter", "Wendigo") older, more experienced grave robber Willie Grimes. Although all manner of horror and grotesque adventures follow, the movie really only works because at its core it is a "buddy movie," and the relationship between Blake and Grimes is the glue that makes all the body parts stick together. Their best customer is Dr. Vernon Quint, played by horror veteran Angus Scrimm ("Phantasm") with Karloff-ian glee, who isn't nearly as noble or moralistic as the ghouls he employs. Fessenden is the one who really shines here. Already possessing "period teeth" and wild hair, he gives a performance that is both unhinged and oddly charming. Schooling Blake on the finer points of the corpse theft and sales business, Grimes teaches Blake the morals involved in the trade. Unlike the historical fiends these characters are obviously modeled after, Burke and Hare, Blake and Grimes don't stoop to murder to acquire fresh corpses. They just get more and more creative in their quest, and indeed they discover there is much more money to be made in selling resurrected vampires, zombies and (in one of the film's funniest scenes) other even stranger creatures better not revealed here. The problem is that dealing in the undead is a competitive and sometimes nasty business, which brings our unlikely heroes up against the House of Murphy, a ruthless clan of murderous Satanists who will do anything to be the top earners in the undead corpse game. Matters are complicated when Blake begins a romance with a beautiful young apprentice to their grim business who is much more ambitious than either of her male counterparts, and who creates a rift in the buddy relationship that could spell doom for both of them. The story is told as the last confession of Blake to a priest played by Ron Perlman. Blake tells his story in an attempt to convince the priest that although he may have done many things, murder isn't one of them. Each chapter is punctuated by comic book frames and feels very much like an old EC Comics "Tales from the Crypt" or a James Warren "Creepy"/"Eerie" comic book. "I SELL THE DEAD" also recalls the British Amicus films of the 1960s, and could have easily been pitched as "The Flesh and the Fiends" meets "Dellamorte Dellamore." Try to imagine a modern Hollywood studio buying that pitch? Enter IFC Films, who have seen fit to give this at least the paltry theatrical release it has been given in the US. There are a couple of twists in the end, one of which I saw coming a mile away and the other which caught me completely by surprise. Still, the scares and laughs come in equal measure and even though the budget was clearly low, the period sets look perfectly dirty, grimy and frozen. Everyone is covered in old dirt and stains with red noses from the bitter cold of this Dickens Hell. Although there are on-screen battles with flesh eating zombies and blood-drinking vampires, the focus is more on the buddy relationship between Monahan and Fessenden, and although there is a significant amount of gore and violence on display, this is far from the type of action/horror hybrid seen recently in films like "Zombieland.' If you go in expecting a zombie massacre, you're likely going to come away disappointed. However, if you rather see something more in Hammer/Amicus mold with a huge dose of black humor, you could do a lot worse than "I SELL THE DEAD." It's the chemistry between Dominic Monahan and Larry Fessenden that made this work for me. They display a sometimes bumbling Abbott & Costello charm as they fly by the seat of their pants on every job, but there is a genuine friendship these two social misfits share that made me care about the danger in their chosen occupation. When the rift between these characters eventually threatens their future health and happiness, I found myself honestly worried about them in spite of the ridiculous and fantastical events going on around them. This is THE RELUCTANT AUSTINITE signing off to go dig up some business of my own. For all you attending BNAT THX1138, I'll see you next week where we can all dig into the secret crypt of screenings from the twisted mind of HEADGEEK. Bring your crucifix! THE RELUCTANT AUSTINITE

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